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Explained: How will you be affected by changes to Swedish ID codes?

Sweden on Tuesday announced proposals to overhaul the system of coordination numbers, the identity codes used by many foreigners in Sweden as well as other individuals who need to contact Swedish authorities. Here's what the new changes would mean for those affected.

Explained: How will you be affected by changes to Swedish ID codes?
If you have a coordination number, or are planning a move to Sweden, these are important changes to be aware of. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

The government described the changes as a complete “restart” of the system, and there are important changes to be aware of for anyone who currently has a coordination number or is planning to move to Sweden. 

What is a coordination number?

A Swedish samordningsnummer or coordination number is a ten-digit code used as identification for people who don't have proof that they will live in Sweden for at least a year, such as a job contract of that length. That includes people who work in Sweden but either do not live there or do not have a long enough contract, people who are seeking asylum in Sweden, people who live abroad but have a business or property registered in Sweden, and people who are studying or job-hunting in Sweden.

If you live in Sweden longer than that, you can get a so-called personal number (personnummer). These numbers are not affected by the proposed changes.

Why is the system changing?

In the autumn, the government ordered an inquiry into the whole system of coordination numbers.

This came after both Swedish police and government agencies warned that the existing system allowed many people to live in Sweden without their identity being confirmed. That was due to the lack of a general requirement for people to prove their identity in order to receive the number (although different authorities have different rules).


What will people need to do in order to get a coordination number?

Under the new rules, anyone applying for a coordination number will need to supply a current contact address. And it will be possible for this address to be overseas, for example in the case of cross-border workers. 

Individuals who want a coordination number will also need to apply for the number in person, a requirement which is not currently in place. Today, the holders of around half of all coordination numbers have not confirmed their identity, according to the government.

How will people who currently have coordination numbers be affected?

As well as complying with the rules above, such as by supplying a contact address, people with coordination numbers will also need to be aware that they could in future lose these numbers.

That shouldn't happen if you still need the number. But the numbers will automatically be de-registered after a period of five years unless the individual or a relevant authority can prove a continued need for the status. It will also be possible for the Tax Agency to remove coordination numbers from people if it finds evidence they have been misused (in other words, if the person they were issued to did not meet the requirements to receive one).

When will these changes come into effect?

The changes outlined above are part of a proposed 'fast track', and the idea is that they'd start from January 1st, 2021. But it's not final yet.

The government is also working on a general inquiry aimed at revamping the entire coordination number system, and that will take longer, with the report expected by April 2021. Some of the issues expected to be addressed by this are ways to make the whole system more secure and change the system of identity verification. 

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Why I’m convinced Skånska is hands down the best Swedish accent

From The Local's archive: After eight years living in Malmö, The Local's southern Sweden correspondent Richard Orange is convinced that the local Skånska dialect is the best type of Swedish. Read further to find out why.

Why I'm convinced Skånska is hands down the best Swedish accent
No other Swedish accent measures up against southern Sweden's Skånska, argues The Local's writer. Photo: Måns Fornander/
To the uninitiated, Skånska or Scanian resembles a cat seeking attention while trying to dislodge a troublesome hairball.  
But after eight years living among the intriguing people of southern Sweden, I have learned to appreciate this much maligned dialect as a thing of beauty. 
Indeed, with its lengthy catalogue of denigrating expressions, freedom from the sing-song rhythm that restricts other forms of Swedish, and its sheer energy, I think Skånska is hands down Sweden's best dialect.
At the very least, all those dipthongs and guttural Rs force speakers to change their facial expressions once in a while (a phenomenon rarely seen among other Swedes).
When I first heard talk of Skånska, it was couched in dread. My wife feared that our newborn daughter, growing up in Malmö, might end up speaking a Swedish with a shameful Skånsk tinge (and lo it has come to pass). 
From her perspective, with her Uppsala-bred Rikssvenska (Standard Swedish), Skånska is the second most ridiculous of the Swedish dialects (the keening, plaintive Örebro accent comes top, with my wife maintaining that it makes speakers sound as if they have something stuck in their bottoms.) 
But when I first heard Skånska actually spoken, probably when I took my daughter to a drop-in kindergarten, I found it thrilling. I was tickled to hear each vowel bent violently to make sounds that probably existed in some English dialect somewhere, but never in such florid combination. 
Take the Skånsk Hallo (hello). It ends with a vowel combination that in English is associated with being almost parodically upper class, but which in southern Sweden issues from the mouths of electricians and farmers. The cognitive clash this produces is amusing. 
In the video below you can see dialect researcher Mathias Strandberg demonstrate how in the southern half of Skåne, every single vowel is bent into a dipthong. 

In Sweden, having a regional accent doesn't have the same class connotations as it does back home in England. 
But it still tickles me to interview someone like Sweden's Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, or former Green Party leader Gustav Fridolin, both of whom have excellent standard English, and then later hear them rattling away in Skånska. 
My real love of the dialect, however, came when I started to understand the culture underpinning it.
As the Skånsk comedian and commentator Kalle Lind wrote in his brilliant encomium to the dialect in regional newspaper Sydsvenskan, it has a “particularly expressive” idiom, and this is notably the case when it comes to those which describe the idiocy or other annoying qualities of another. 
To anyone who can read Swedish, I highly recommend Sydsvenskan's På Ren Skånska ('in pure Skånska'), the series of articles celebrating the dialect which Lind's essay is part of. 
Ditt jävla ålarens (you bloody eel offal), Lind asserts, beats out Standard Swedish's din förbaskade korkskalle (you darn cork head). Glyttapanna beats barnrumpa (child-bottom). Din satans klydderöv, he continues, before realizing that there is no Standard Swedish expression for klydderöv, which describes someone who does things badly and makes a mess.  
Then of course, there's the all-round favourite ålahue, which means literally “eel head”. 

My wife complains that Lind is simply ignorant of the amusing and creative expressions that exist in her own Uppsala Swedish. 
But I suspect she is deluding herself. There's a revelry in being gently offensive among Skånings, something they share with the Danes and the British but not with more northerly Swedes, that lends itself to developing these expressions. 
My big frustration is that Skånings seem to be above teaching Swedish to foreigners like me, so my Swedish accent (well, to be honest it's more of a British accent) doesn't have the slightest hint of Skåne in it. 
I can only listen in jealousy when I hear TV gardener John Taylor speak in his perfect Skånska, lightly dusted with his Yorkshire upbringing, as he presents on SVT's Trädgårdstider (Garden Seasons) show.